Cuban Missile Crisis - Development

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Development of the crisis

In early summer 1962 Castro agreed to Khr request for the deployment of soviet nuclear missiles on Cuba. Kennedys inital failure in the initial stages of the unfolding crisis lay in his certainty that khr would never carry out such a reckless plan as to deploy nucelar missiles so close to the USA. Kennedy failed to assess the reaction choices that both Castro and Khr could have had towards bay of pigs, operation mongoose, US military in training in the carribean and the very clear attemps to isolate cuba economically and diplomatically. He failed to have a range of strategies in place to respond to whatever the possible reactions were. To some extent, Kennedy operated an approach based on crisis management. He dealt with the problem when it arose rather than anticipating it in advance and having a viable strategy in place to address it.  

There was no clear evidence to suggest that Khr understood how kennedy would react to the deployment of nuclear weapons so close to the USA. He seemed to of gravely underestimated the attitude of kennedy and international community on the validity of having soviet missiles so near to the USA. Castro's position was slightly different. He felt safe from attack from the USA with soviet missiles on Cuba. It could be argued that Castro was a reckless and a dangerous oppurtunist who rose to the chance to humiliate the USA by having a major nuclear capability on Cuba. Such an arguement would suggest that he used both SU and the USA to advance Cuba, through risky gambling. 

By mid july the soviets began shipping men and equipment to cuba. The Maria Ulyanov arrived on 26th july 1962. The US used photographic detail for u-2 spy planes to gather information about what was arriving in Cuba. By 5th september there had been 3 flights but the deployment of missiles was not sufficiently advanced to be discovered at this point. Kennedy came under increasing pressure to be proactive. On 11 spetember he announced "if at any time communist build-up in cuba were to endanger or interfere with our security in any way" or if cuba were to "become an offensive military base of significant capacity for the SU then the US would do whatever it must be done to protect its own security and its own allies". The SU's response came on 21st september when foreign minister made a speech to the UN in which he warned that an attack on cuba would mean war for the SU. 

The soviet deployment had depended on a major nuclear build-up taking place without the USA realising it had happened. This secrecy ended on 14th october when a U-2 spy plane flight produced unmistakeable evidence of an R-12 missile sit at San Cristobal. Kennedy immediately assembled an advisory committee known as Excomm. Kennedy and Excomm were faced with a range of constraints in their response to the deployment. They could do nothing which might risk

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